Push, push, push

The last day of another month…this has been one of the most concentrated in terms of touring for quite some time. Fourteen shows have been spread over three weeks on the road, with over two thousand miles driven in Europe in the last stretch. At least the weather was kinder this time than on the last Western Europe stint – the snow held off until the very last day. Still, this felt like a long tour – having only a few days off between the Spanish and Northern European legs didn’t really give much time for rest – and I was/am pretty tired by the end of it.

This time I played 87 different songs in the course of the tour. Some of these hadn’t been visited for a very long time. Of course, some of the versions fell quite a long way shy of being definitive (!) but it’s still fun to push, push, push in this way.

It’s not just game-playing, or (for, effectively, my own amusement) statistical game-playing. Different though each night’s set is from the next I have to maintain simultaneous awareness that some people get to see a lot of shows, some only one show every few years – or, indeed, ever. Any set, therefore, must be reasonably representative of the diversity of styles, content and age which the, ahem, Peter Hammill songbook contains. Sometimes it takes me nearly as long to work out what will be in the set as it does to play it.

Without being morbid, a serious point about doing so many songs (and yes, there are still others that I have on my potentially-to-be-played lists) is that as and when I’m done with playing then all these songs will be stilled. They’ll continue to be there, of course, in recorded form but that’s rather a different thing to the wild life which can exist in the unpredictable interaction between voice and piece on stage.

I really don’t mean to be morbid…but the time of these songs’ lives is finite and we’re now evidently quite a long way down it.

Not that I mean to give any intimation that I’m on the verge of stopping either the solo stuff or (whatever it is which might await us in the future in) VdGG world. The fact is, though, that playing and public performance is now done for the year and that leads to a certain ruminative view of things.

It’s been a great year, so many enjoyable shows, such fantastic tours….

And now I’m going to be beavering away quietly and privately in pursuit of whatever’s going to come in 2013. AS they say, don’t know where, don’t know when….don’t know what at all, actually!

So, onward!

25 Comments on “Push, push, push”

  1. Sue K Wilcox says:

    The first I saw you was in Reading in 1971. All I really remember was the frenetic movement and the white satin pants I tried to copy for myself to wear. Genesis supported you. I was 18 back then – Now I’m 64. A friend, new then – old now, introduced me to Pawn Hearts and I became obsessed. A strange synchronicity of your songs and my life kept me fascinated. Who else could write about science fiction with emotion? I came to as many concerts as I could over the years, mainly in London. I saw you once in your bank near Harrods; you even called me once thinking I was a different Sue. I have bought each album on vinyl and then on CD, some multiple times, as moving caused losses. When I moved to the US to be with my now husband I lovingly rehomed my vinyl collection with friends in the UK. I continue to buy each album as you create it, sad that you fell out with David Jackson but happy you continue to work with Hugh and Guy. I wish I’d known you better but understand your desire for a private life. I’ve imagined how I’d redirect your creative flow, if I knew you, into more revealing emotional stories – me being a writer and loving the interaction of the individual’s life and the song. Anyway it’s been long overdue that I sent you a note of appreciation for your life’s work. I always fantasised that one day I would really meet you and we’d get on together really great and be such friends. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Mortality is a possibility but I like to think that a healthy diet and a stimulating mental life will keep me going a long long time – us cyberpsychologists are in short supply. Anytime you want to collaborate on some scifi extravaganza I’m your girl. But I’m going to want some sax in there…
    With endless thanks for your mind, your voice, your music, and your life.
    Sue in California

  2. […] his life’s work”. I was accused in some quarters of an inappropriate morbidity, but Hammill’s October 2012 journal entry confirms that I was spot on: “a serious point about doing so many songs is that as and when I’m […]

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sad and dissapointed that I missed the first show in Vienna since 1994……

    hope to see you next year !!


  4. Maresa says:

    Do I get to edit? It is a NON-conventional diet, not was not meant to be written. Sorry.

  5. Maresa says:

    I am sorry that you are tired at the end of your tour. I am on a RAW food diet now and it is helping with energy. It is also tremendously healing. I eat 95 percent raw. It really helps!! It is not a non-conventional diet but it will help to sustain you and heal your body. I sprout my food and also eat raw animal products. I listen to your music because of the creativity, risk taking, intelligence and the sound of your voice. Genesis doesn’t compare with you or Peter Gabriel. That is how I feel about Kate Bush. She is not really prog in the real sense. It makes me angry when these people are promoted as progressive. Their skills are limited. I know Gentle Giant is real prog. I am prog, but but I am not obsessed with complexity all the time, just emotion and quality. Soon to have a new site but I am on youtube.
    Virgo Rouge. I am not here to promote me. But I am actually listening to you constantly. I hope it rubs off. I hope that I can get into a great studio soon because I am friends with someone who is very rich and commercial, but since I am not commercial it may not work out. Life is rough. If they never gave you a record deal, my life would have been less alive.

  6. kilngoddes says:

    Greetings and Happy Birthday!
    Always a pleasure reading your journal and I look forward to new songs in the new year…keep up your connection to beauty in all its forms,

  7. Happy Birthday, Peter!!!!! 🙂

  8. Utrecht will remain in my memory as one of the very best concerts I ever attained from you, Frankfurt was more adventurous with unpredictable song choices but not with the coherence of Utrecht, altrough I enjoyed a lot of it like “masks”, ” The Lie”, ” The Birds” and all recent songs of the last two albums. Enjoy your well diserved vacation and family time, and we all hope to see you back next year in whatever project(s).Rest me to wish you happy birthday and an enjoyable party and thx for the music and still being there for us,


  9. Ólafur Auðunsson (Iceland) says:

    Happy birthday Peter (next monday 11 05 )
    Thanks for everything this year . BOX and cd´s.

  10. Dear mr. Hammill,

    Many thanks from me too, this time for the Amsterdam show. You walked right by me at the end of the show, singing Again. That song (and many more of course, for instance the whole of the magnificent Thin Air album) to me are proof hat you’ve always underlined that whatever is, will still.
    I just hope you don’t feel sorry because of the future stillness, because it is not the same as silence. In stillness there is still an echo, and though it may be a tiny echo, even a tiny one can lead to boys and girls singing ‘Modern’ many years from now, a song they learned from their grandfather, who had learned it from his grandfather, who attended a mindblowing ‘Peter Hammill’ concert, sometime at the beginning of the millennium.

    The song remains in the air.
    As always, looking forward to whatever you will sing next,

    Martijn Koek

  11. Maurice says:

    Peter: I take your point about the “stilling” process, but don’t forget your old school motto – aeterna non caduca!

  12. Peter Neumann says:

    Dear Peter,

    thank you for your performances on this tour and thank you for the energy und great spirit you gave to the audiences. The Erfurt-show was very special for me, we knew you had a over-long drive from Berlin along the over-filled autobahn, there was no piano and the show was probably the “best” I ‘ve ever seen. Pure raw energy and an artist getting as far as he could after such a day. Thank you. The Frankfurt show was also a great one – with Masks and Chicago! Have a good time and I hope you will come back with VDG next year.


  13. Ricardo Giavedoni says:

    Dear Peter: I really want to know if is possible to see/hear you again here, in the far south of the Americas. There are many many people in Santa Fe, Argentina, who miss you very much.
    The Secretario Municipal de Cultura is a big admirer of your work and, chating with him, he told me that is possible to make your concert in the Teatro Municipal, a great classic construction of early 20th century with a fantastic acoustic. If this is not enough, we can welcome you with a great parrillada and goods malbecs!
    Warms greetins from Santa Fe,

    Pato Giavedoni

  14. A. says:

    Dear Mr. Hammill,
    I went to see your concert in Madrid, it was an experience I’ll remember always.
    Hope to see you again (solo or with VdGG), and don’t forget that you have people that appreciate your music in South America too.
    Oh, and thank you for playing “Last Frame”, a song that came to me in the right moment .
    Warm regards,

  15. Anonymous says:

    As I was reading your words about the “stilling” of songs, I was resisting the thought, but, just a night ago I watched a youtube video that contained “What’s it Worth” – a song dear to my heart, I have been through 3+ decades with that song, and for the first time ever, it sounded dated. I wondered if this was because it was live and Now ? It was a delight to hear, (wonderful rendition) and my appreciation of the song is no less. So, I kind of understand what you are saying, and, you have SO many songs.!!

    Peter, I have had the privilege of listening to your music and VDGG for almost half of my life. It continues to be meaningful to me in so many ways,.. always and ever EXPANDING !!!

    Thanks for all you have given and shared !

    Martha Cass

  16. Jan Visser says:

    this tour had a beautifull intensity. Solo or VDGG songs. They were all special and unique on the moment you played them.
    I was emotionally touched by meanwhile my mother in Zoetermeer. It was a moment of recognition, because my mother….
    Enjoy your rest, but I hope to see you solo of with VDGG soon. For now.
    thank you, thank you, thank you
    Jan J Visser

  17. Peter, please do a solo show in New York one of these days. You’re my favorite living artist, and I’d really like to see you in concert while that is still the case. I think you’ve been here solo before, but I’ve only been a fan for 3 and a half years or so, as I’m only 22 years old — see, your legacy’s living on with the younger generation. So, yeah, please come someday if feasible, and make this fan’s hope a reality. At least one person will show up.

  18. tom fritz says:

    pete- thank you so much. your music is really quite the source of strength for me. also, wondering if you & bill nelson are planning anything as far as recording? thanks tom

  19. Adam Matlock says:

    I do hope that in the New Year you are able to make it to the States for some solo performances. I was incredibly grateful to see VdGG in New York this summer, and if that were the only performance of yours I got to see in my lifetime I would be satisfied – but I can’t help but wish for more.

  20. Mikayel says:

    A post with Black-Box-effect for me. I use the “Black-Box-effect” term to describe something that may seem to look like it is something’s end, which in fact is just a turn of another page. I remember there was a fragment in “The Lemming Chronicles” book about the feeling the author had when he first knew about “A Black Box” album. “Is this the way how it all ends?”-kind of question was answered by many many chapters describing the same “Push, push, push” way-of-life. (Haven’t we all got a White Box today?)

    Thank you Peter!

  21. Aways good to hear from you Peter, I still find your music as fresh as when I first heard it in 1979…

  22. Jaap Ketelaar says:

    For many years I was looking forward to see Peter perform “Mirror Images”. This song impressed me very much in the eighties of the last centuary. And….. indeed, I was lucky: it appeared to be the third song in Zoetermeer/NL. Thanks so much!!!

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